DTS interview: 11.1 setups, Blu-ray and speaking to Spielberg

Wall-E is a great example of this. The UK release has a DTS-HD Master Audio track on it, and that's a real flagship movie.

TR: Are you happy with the way Blu-ray has been received by the general public?

AW: There's an increasing awareness at the high-end home cinema market, that more and more people are making the leap from high-end to Blu-ray.

In terms of Blu-ray as a format, we are happy with the way it is going. Many people may tell you that Blu-ray is not taking off yet. But in terms of its evolution, Blu-ray is ahead of where DVD was (at the same point). If you look at the 'two-year from starting point' timeline, Blu-ray is faring better.

At the moment Blu-ray is fantastic for what it does. I'm sure in the future we will move on to some other sort of content delivery system.

TR: Why has nobody else come on board to compete against you and Dolby?

AW: Because it is so difficult to go from nowhere to design a codec that works, which is probably the easier part, finding the mathematical algorithm and all that, and actually get it licensed by hardware manufacturers and to persuade content creators to encode with it and build the infrastructure. It is all very hard.

We faced that difficulty ourselves as Dolby had been out for years and had a massive head start. When we came to the market we had to climb that hill. We've been doing this for nearly 14 years now and it's been a crazy ride.

TR: What changes has DTS seen change in those years?

AW: It's a combination of disc capacity, going from DVD to Blu-ray has meant we can now be on the discs alongside Dolby. Back when it was just DVD, you were very happy if you won a spot on the disc. This choice means that the real winner now is the consumer.

The higher disc capacity also means that audio can now be hi-def. Even though we still implement a compression technique because of a need to reduce file size, the sound you can now get is extraordinary.

Couple this with the general consumer acceptance of a hi-def video experience and it means that consumers now demand audio to match picture quality.

TR: Do you think that consumers are confused when it comes to audio format choices?

AW: There is still confusion amongst consumers about terminology and technology. Especially about what they need in terms of getting HD.

If you are authoring on Blu-ray you have got three options. You either go linear PCM, where you have to make a compromise between how much bitrate you give picture and extras, or you go the compressed route and you have to choose between Dolby and DTS.

But any technology-based industry faces the difficulty of consumer education. With respect to the AV industry in general, it's near impossible to simplify things. People ask me about the issue of connectivity: 'How do I connect this to this? I've got HDMI, components etc.' It's a minefield of concerns.

It is the jobs of companies like ourselves to try and de-mystify that. One of the things we are trying to implement this year, is to get some training programme for shop staff – the licensee.

If they are more informed, then the consumer in turn will become more informed. This is something that we need to be accountable for.

TR: Do you think demystification would alienate your core enthusiasts who have taken it upon themselves to learn and understand the ins and outs of AV?

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.